I’m not officially a “Trekker” but I grew up with and enjoyed the original STAR TREK series and have been a science fiction fan since I’ve known how to read. So, when I was in junior high and STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE came I was definitely hot to see it – it was right on the crest of the wave of spectacular sci-fi movies spawned by STAR WARS and promised to be a much needed updating of the franchise to give it the visual grandeur the characters and stories always deserved.
So, I plop myself down in the theater and the first few minutes are as promised: the visuals are great, the Enterprise has received a refit making it arguably the most beautiful starship in cinema history, and all the characters are back looking great and ready for action. However, no sooner does Kirk arrive on board the Enterprise, a console blows up in the transporter room and two new crew members die during transport. Now, anyone who’s watched the show knows that death is nothing new to STAR TREK; Red Shirts go down like handfuls of popcorn throughout the series and in some episodes, whole planets get snuffed. But usually the on-screen deaths are quick and easy – “Ensign So-and-So” goes out in a flare of pretty green phaser light or “Yeoman Bazzfazz” gets poison plant darts in the chest or steps on an exploding rock.
Not so in STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE.
The unfortunate crew are turned into living Georges Braque paintings and they are apparently conscious the whole time because while Kirk and others are trying to save them they are *writhing* around in the transporter beam and SCREECHING LIKE BANSHEES WITH THEIR SACKS CAUGHT IN A THREE-PHASE SOCKET!! Grape-flavored Christ on a stick! It’s a good thing the rest of the movie moved along in such a sedate fashion because it took almost two hours for my heart rate to get back to normal after that. Then it took a couple days to be able to get through the day without imagining what it would be like to have my eye socket displaced by my anus. Sweet merciful Buddha, what a way to kick off a return to the world of STAR TREK!
UNK SEZ: SBD, one of the great things about that scene is that it relies on the viewer’s imagination to supply the grotesque results of the teleportation blunder. When you consider that STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE was directed by ROBERT WISE who proved himself a virtuoso in the art of cinematic suggestion and subtle audience manipulation with 1963’s THE HAUNTING it’s no surprise. Certainly the mind does reel at what the end result of having all your molecules scrambled up would actually be. WISE must have rightfully surmised that showing such a thing would turn off most viewers… but I guess he did not account for imaginations as strong as yours! (Really, SBD, an anus in your eye socket? Everything would look like crap!)